Prioritising employee experience in a digital-first world

2020 was a strategic wake-up call where the pandemic brought about years of change in a span of a few months. Digital adoption has taken a quantum leap as the crisis pushed companies over the technology tipping point and transformed businesses forever.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed gaps in companies’ strategies as leaders are made to face new challenges and flex new muscles to manage remote and hybrid workforce arrangements. As such, in order to remain agile and future-forward, organisations are now forced to rethink their business priorities. And sitting on top of every renewed business agenda is the Employee Experience (EX).

KellyOCG’s 2021 Global Workforce Agility Survey indicates that the future workplace will be defined by a continuous state of flux. This means that creating and maintaining market competitiveness hinges on the organisation’s ability to provide a holistic EX powered by frontier technology. There are some key ways organisations can adopt technology with an EX-first approach – critical to unlocking enhanced employee engagement, boost productivity and empower talent.

After being thrust into remote working the last year, businesses have accelerated their speed and embraced new ways of working to innovate and stay ahead of the disruption. However the survey indicates that business aren’t moving fast enough to adapt effectively.

Technology adoption is key to future success

The report found that 85 per cent of employees in Singapore agree technology adoption is key to future success, but it also discovered that 60 per cent employers admit that their workforce lacks skills to adopt new technologies at pace.

A key challenge facing decision makers today is combing through the wide array of technology options and adopting the best fit solution. Research has shown that 66 per cent of Singaporean employers are overwhelmed by the volume of workforce technology tools, putting undue stress on them.

To ease the pressure, businesses must first choose trusted vendors that are right for their business. Those who can help develop an innovative workforce strategy by optimising employees across labour categories and maximising talent investment will be assets. This not only builds robust digital capabilities in the workforce, but also breaks silos in organisations and drives greater collaboration between teams.

Organisations have to first identify and prioritise the people goals and objectives either if it’s to enhance collaboration, well-being, productivity and from there be focused to work with technology partners with platforms that’s right for them to enable prompt implementation.

Driving a purpose-led busines value

In our new fragmented environment, the concept of workplace experience has drastically changed to take on new meaning. But even in uncertainty, organisations can deploy effective strategies to ensure a healthy and positive experience for employees.

Workplace technology can empower employees to choose when and where they work. This is echoed in our survey results where more than 80 per cent Singapore employers agree cutting-edge technologies boosts employee collaboration.

Employee well-being has deteriorated or stagnated in the past year

Globally, 38% of businesses report that employee well-being has deteriorated or stagnated in the past year but technology can play a big role in improving this as long as leaders embrace a new vision for workforce planning, one that harnesses the power of purpose to drive true value.

An example that reflects this renewed focus is Toyota’s Ask HR app created for 45,000 employees in North America. Aligning the business objectives with its employee experience, the technology leverages AI and machine learning to answer any HR-related questions. This has helped to offer employees a seamless, omni-channel experience that is aimed at improving employee wellbeing and productivity.

HR Director of Toyota North America, Anthony Allen shares, “At Toyota, we take a different approach: we perform usability studies on our workforce technologies, asking employees whether they can intuitively navigate applications, and we use personal and user-journey mapping to measure the effectiveness of our technology from an employee perspective.”

The biggest technology gap around managing a hybrid workforce is in measuring progress towards deliverables. The way organisations are measuring the effectiveness of their output is unfortunately still stuck in the 60s, and this is particularly true for organisations that measure time rather than output. Now with a purpose driven ambition that puts employees at the center, businesses can focus on the problem and use automation to add value. It’s all about technology for the people.

On the road to recovery

In the blink of an eye, the business world has been upended. With everything disrupted, piecing together a new winning strategy to thrive in the challenging business climate may sound almost impossible.

However it is the companies that get the EX journey right that will build a competitive advantage, differentiate from the rest and emerge successful. For leaders who have optimised EX, it has proven to be a very valuable goal that pays multiple dividends.

Organisations that have a dedicated focus on employee experience also have a strong culture, increased employee engagement, and high levels of touch throughout the employee life cycle.

As we usher in a new decade of technology advancements, leaders must adopt a more strategic and long-term approach to improve the resilience, agility, and wellbeing of their workforces. This approach will have a positive impact on overall business performance. Whilst organisations cannot be expected to fully alleviate the stress of post-pandemic life, there is much they can do to create a working environment that focuses on more engaging and positive employee experience.

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